Navigating the digital marketing landscape: strategy first, MarTech second

Navigating the digital marketing landscape: strategy first, MarTech second

Just like the chicken and the egg scenario, there are two ways to approach digital marketing: MarTech solution first, or strategy first? Tom Ryan, CEO at marketing consultancy MarCloud, recognises that starting with strategy first will always be the most effective way to meet the audience’s needs. He explains how businesses should consider how to make the technology work for them, rather than how they’ll be led by the technology.

Marketing technology (MarTech) moves fast and as a result, senior marketers often face a big challenge; keep the current tech stack or introduce a new system that aligns with the new strategy.

Both options can create problems. Moving platform is costly and if it doesn’t bring results quickly, jobs could be on the line.

Conversely, stick with the same tool and you may restrict what you can actually implement from your strategy.

Meanwhile, budgets often don’t enable you to use two tools concurrently, so what do you do?

Don’t let the tail wag the dog

A lot of companies somehow end up in a scenario where they make decisions ‘because the tool forces us to’. If you’ve heard this phrase before, perhaps you should start reviewing the technology you are using.

As part of your tech stack review, try to identify as many of these scenarios as you can and note them down as pain points. For example, if this restriction was removed, what would it mean for the business?

Technology is there to enable us, not limit us.

Strategy always comes first

By its very nature, strategic planning places your goals front and centre. It means you start with ‘why are we doing what we are doing’ and work outwards to the ‘who are we targeting/ who is involved/ who does this benefit’, ‘what do we need to do’, ‘when do we need to do it by’ and ‘how do we succeed’.

This planning phase is crucial because this gives you a chance to stress test and scenario plan ahead of time. You could even run interviews with customers at this stage to understand your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and what channels work best for them. If this produces unclear results, you still have time to change course. Hopefully, though, these findings will help you decide on using platform B instead of the originally thought platform A – this will save you thousands upon thousands of pounds.

Understanding your audience, where they communicate and having a means of messaging them will be important in determining which technology will support you in your objectives.

Automation tools: enablers, not strategies themselves

Marketers have a bad habit of trying to automate everything. Sometimes this is good but sometimes it is overkill. These tools are there to streamline processes, remove human error, save time and deliver consistency at scale.

You would not buy a warehouse full of materials to build a shed, so don’t let fancy features on a product lead you down the wrong decision path.

Similarly, you wouldn’t buy a sports car if you needed to sail across the ocean. So why would you buy an automation tool that doesn’t align with your strategy?

How to approach tech vendor selection

There’s a logical approach to reviewing your tech stack and how to make better decisions.
● Map your current tech stack

By visualising what you currently have, you will quickly identify inefficiencies and gaps. This visual view will help you and your team see the full picture.

● Run a SWOT analysis

A SWOT will help you understand the cost of inaction, your problematic areas that need to be improved and how this decision might improve business moving forward. This view is important because it helps you take a different perspective on the changes.

● Propose changes

The next step is to actually put pen to paper and propose what tools will be swapped out with new ones or what tools will be introduced to the new tech stack. The steps prior help to set the scene and this step is about communicating to the team what changes you are wanting to make. Be sure to include why you are doing this to create clarity for the decision-makers.

● Update the current tech stack

The visual map you made to show current day needs to be updated to show the tech stack with the proposed changes included. This lets people visualise the future for how things could look if all changes are approved.

● Next steps

This is probably the most important part to get the move signed off. The person or team proposing the changes needs to communicate how the new tools will be utilised. Perhaps there is an important campaign upcoming and this will help the business unlock far more revenue than previously possible.

Change management

Once the proof of concept gets soft approval from senior management, it is prudent to plan ahead and start to think about how the tool will be adopted by the wider teams in their day-to-day operations.

Producing materials and scheduling team calls to ‘sell’ the new tools to the team is a good idea because this is a critical point in the process where the technology will either be adopted or it will fall flat.

Employee training and adoption

It is often in the best interest of the vendor to provide useful resources and support to enable customers to speak to the vendor to see how they can support you.

Inviting their customer success reps to internal calls can be a good way to collaborate and enable people within the business because it gives them a chance to ask questions and interact with a subject matter expert.

Making technology work for you

Businesses should approach technology with a mindset of making it work for them, not the other way around. It’s about leveraging the capabilities of MarTech to enhance and amplify the strategic vision, not letting the technology dictate the course. This approach ensures that technology aligns with the unique needs and goals of the business, leading to more effective and targeted marketing efforts. Or in other words, more revenue.

So, be careful when selecting your automation tools. If you take one thing from this article it’s that the tech should work for you!

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